Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #91



Rumor Control

Late early September is always a sort of doldrums for TV and movies with the 2016/2017 TV season essentially over and the next not quite having started yet. And the summer movie season has also ended which means there’s a lull in new interesting movies out before the fall season starts with more interesting fare.

On TV I’ve been watching series like People of Earth, The Guest Book, Halt and Catch Fire and The Defenders. But I’ve also been checking out things like episodes of the original Star Trek on Netflix as well.

So far this year movie-wise I’ve seen:

Passengers: I liked it but I don’t think I would have cared as much for it if I would have paid full price to see it. See Passengers if you ever wondered what I Am Legend would have been like in space.

Logan: So far I think Logan is the best movie of the year and is one of the best comic book movies of all-time. Just see Logan if you haven’t.

Life: I was disappointed in this one. This sci-fi movie about astronauts in space doing battle with an alien lifeform didn’t connect with me for whatever reason. See Life if you always wanted to see an unofficial sequel to The Thing set on board a space station.

Kong: Skull Island: Not a great movie by any standards, but not a terrible way to spend a few hours either. See Kong: Skull Island if you love movies about giant monsters stepping on/eating people.

Ghost in the Shell: See above. See this movie if you understood what was going on in the Ghost in the Shell anime.

Alien: Covenant: This sequel to Prometheus/ prequel to Alien is a good movie if it takes a bit of time to get going and has a few too many plot-holes. Still, I dug this one. See Alien: Covenant if you love the Alien movie franchise even if you have conflicted feelings about Alien Resurrection.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: For whatever reason I wasn’t a fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy but liked the sequel a lot. It’s a fun, poppy movie that moves at a nice pace and features characters the audience likes to be with. See Guardians of the Galaxy 2 if you like watching superheros hanging out and having fun.

TV

Mindhunter series promo

Comics

Batman: Year One — The Deluxe Edition

The Batman: Year One storyline of a Bruce Wayne on the cusp of becoming Batman might be my favorite Batman story of all-time. Written by Frank Miller, Year One has a strange positivity whereas his much more acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns is almost its opposite.

From DC:

One of the most important and critically acclaimed Batman adventures ever—written by Frank Miller (BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) with art by David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil)—returns in a new deluxe edition hardcover. In addition to telling the entire dramatic story of Batman’s first year fighting crime from BATMAN #404–407, this collection includes introductions by Miller and editor Dennis O’Neil, reproductions of original layouts, promotional art, unseen Mazzucchelli Batman art, Richmond Lewis’s color samples, script pages and more!

Books

Bernie Wrightson: Art and Designs for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio

Artist Bernie Wrightson was one of the best all-around comic book artists/illustrators/painters/storytellers ever. One body of Wrightson’s work that so far much of hasn’t seen the light of day is his conceptual work for film and TV. Of which Bernie Wrightson: Art and Designs for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio is set to rectify publishing conceptual work from his time working at this studio.

From Hermes Press:

Wrightson’s extensive design work for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio, while known, has never been documented until now with the creation of this new in-depth monograph that utilizes the archives of the studio. Marvel at concept drawings, model sheets, and hundreds of designs for projects including Biker Mice From Mars, The Juice, and Freak Show. All of the artwork in this book has been scanned directly from the original artwork so fans can savior Wrightson’s genius up close and personal.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1907: Fay Wray of King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game is born
  • 1966: Star Trek (The Original Series) premiers
  • 1966: The Time Tunnel debuts
  • 1973: The TV series Star Trek (The Animated Series) premiers
  • 1975: The animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes debuts
  • 1980: Battle Beyond the Stars premiers
  • 2008: The TV series Fringe premiers



Direct Beam Comms #77



Movies

On sci-fi and loneliness: Passengers

Passengers is part of a larger sci-fi trend of film and TV focusing on just one person. Before in similar movies and series, that “one person” was the only one because of some plague or natural disaster like in I Am Legend or The Quiet Earth. But the modern take on this is that this “one person” isn’t the last person alive, but they’re alone and are marooned by themselves none-the-less. Movies like Moon had the only person Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) being the sole-occupant of a lunar mining station, Gravity had Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) as the only survivor of a Space Shuttle mission who’s trapped in orbit and The Martian had Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as an astronaut left behind on Mars who must survive with only duct tape, plastic wrap and his wits.

In all of these movies humanity is still alive and well back on the Earth but the main characters are so separated from us they might as well be the only person alive.

In Passengers, the last man is Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is a passenger on a shiny space-liner taking thousands of hibernating passengers from the Earth to a new colony world. But because of a glitch Jim awakens from this 120 year journey a bit early — 80 years too early in fact. And since he’s the only one awake and since there’s no way for him to go back into hibernation Jim has to face the reality of spending the rest of his life living alone on this ship.

While Jim is utterly alone on this ship he’s surrounded by thousands of pleasantly slumbering passengers all around him and a robotic bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen) to talk with. But Arthur has a robotic personality to match and isn’t much company and Jim slowly begins to lose his mind from loneliness as he reads the computerized biographies of the other sleeping passengers. After falling in love with the backstory on another passenger Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), Jim decides to awaken her too, blame it on the same glitch that woke him so they can live happily ever after together on this luxury-liner of the stars.

Or so he hopes.

Passengers is a good movie, if full of plot-holes. From the idea that a company would spend untold sums of cash to build a spaceship that’s like a 5-star hotel that’s but is only designed to be used a few months every 240 years or so is ludicrous. Also ludicrous is the idea Aurora has (get it with her name “Aurora” or Sleeping Beauty) of becoming the first writer to journey to this new colony world and back to write about what that experience is like. Except doesn’t the crew of these ships do that all the time? Plus, once Aurora arrives back on the Earth she’d be a 240 year old anachronism who’d be totally out of date and out of step with the realities of that civilization. Let’s put it this way — if someone from 1777 turned up in 2017 they would be the story. People would be interested in what it was like to live and work 240 years in the past rather than what the trip was like. Or even that Jim wouldn’t look to awaken a technician who might be able to put them back to sleep…

I’d be lying if I said the style of Passengers wasn’t anything that had been put to screen before. The ship of Passengers the Avalon, in and around which all the action takes place, from the inside looks like a 5-star hotel staffed by robots. There are some interesting futuristic bits and pieces here and there, but for the most part style-wise Passengers looks much like every other sci-fi movie of the last five years — very slick and very computer generated. The one thing that is different is the actual design of the outside of the Avalon that looks more like a twisting piece of modern art than a traditional-looking spaceship. But that only goes so far from separating this movie from the pack.

Passengers is good, but it’s not a movie that’s going to expand the genera. There’s really nothing new about the plot of Jim being the last man and facing the future alone but somehow finding companionship — which is what happens in every last man story. But it’s not bad either. I thought on the whole Passengers was a very interesting movie from the last man standpoint if not that unique.

Aurora: He woke me up. He took away my life…It’s murder!

Gus Mancuso: You’re right, Aurora. But, the drowning man will always try to drag somebody down with him. It ain’t right, but the man is drowning.

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

TV

Castlevania teaser

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1940: Rene Auberjonois, Odo of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1953: Colm Meaney, Chief O’Brien of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1985: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock opens in theaters
  • 1990: Total Recall premiers
  • 1996: The last episode of Space: Above and Beyond airs
  • 1991: The TV series Liquid Television premiers



Direct Beam Comms #42



TV

The Exorcist – Grade: A-

To be honest, I’ve never seen the original 1973 film of The Exorcist. It was never one of those movies that turned up all that often “edited for TV” on the networks and for whatever reason I don’t ever remember seeing it on any of our pay cable channels we got either. Now I’m certain that I’ve seen parts and pieces of the movie over the years when I happened to catch it here and there. But I’m also very certain that I’ve never seen the movie from start to finish.

mv5bmtuznjg2odk5m15bml5banbnxkftztgwntiwotm3ote-_v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_And that may be why the new FOX The Exorcist TV series caught with me — I really don’t have anything else to compare it to.

This version of The Exorcist story takes place modern day in the same universe as the film — one of the priests of the show (Alfonso Herrera) sees a newspaper article mentioning the events of the film. In the TV version it’s Chicago and one of Angela Rance’s (Geena Davis) daughters has been behaving differently ever since the death of a friend. And ever since her daughter began behaving this way weird things have started happening around the house like voices inside the walls and weird shadows moving behind doors. Enter young Father Tomas Ortega (Herrera) who goes in and realizes he’s in over his head and isn’t even quite sure what’s happening and gets Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) who has experience in exorcisms to help.

And that’s pretty much where the first episode ends, well after a pretty big/interesting twist to the TV version. So it seems like the story of the TV The Exorcist will be of these two fathers fighting for the soul of Rance’s daughter while at the same time finding out that there’s more than one demon involved.

I really got a kick out of The Exorcist — even if it does fall into the trap of having the demons only affecting people who are already religious which doesn’t quite make sense. Isn’t evil equal opportunity?

I went into it not expecting much — it doesn’t pay to expect much out of new TV series. But I left The Exorcist liking it a lot with the show giving off a strong The Sixth Sense and The Mothman Prophecies vibe in a good way. The show is creepy enough with a few genuine scenes of horror — even if there’s a few scenes where things happen that don’t quite make sense logically other than they happened that way in order to make the scene scarier.

I’m genuinely excited to see where this one goes — with one caveat. I think what worked so well here is that it seems like the story of The Exorcist is going to play out over the course of a season which is great. But only if that season is something like 10 or 13 episode. I think if FOX tries to turn the story of The Exorcist into something more/longer it’s not going to work.

But for right now The Exorcist looks to be the best new show of the season so far.

Also, I realized watching The Exorcist that this is Davis second foray in starring in a remake of a horror classic. She also starred in the 1986 movie remake of The Fly.

Star Wars Rebels – Grade: B+

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

This third, and reportedly final season of Star Wars Rebels on DisneyXD jumps ahead a few years in time from the first two seasons. Here, Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) has matured from a young boy to a young man, and where he once had burgeoning Jedi powers now wields these same powers as an almost master.

The only problem is that without the guiding hand of Jedi Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) Ezra is being lured by evil forces to serve the dark side.

The story complexity of Star Wars Rebels is surprisingly deep. This is much more than a simple action series where the good guys go and fight the bad guys. Instead, this is a show about what can happen to people fighting the good fight if they even take one step in the wrong direction. Like is Kanan’s decision to train Ezra as a Jedi which could possibly help bring down the Empire a good one, if it also means there’s a chance Ezra might instead be turned to bring down the Rebellion?

Now the rumor is that this is the final season of Star Wars Rebels since there’s a desire to rather than having a bridge show between the two film trilogies to instead have a new series focused on events around the new movies. Which is fine — it’s just a shame that Disney can’t find a few extra dollars in the billions that Star Wars is bringing in to support, I dunno, two Star Wars cartoons instead of just the one?

Just an idea. 😉

The Good Place – Grade: B

913084_770The premiere of the new show The Good Place debuted last week on NBC. It was billed as a comedy but after having watched the first three episodes that all ran last week I don’t think that The Good Place had many laughs — I think I chuckled a few times during the episodes. But what the show really is, is one of the darkest and most disturbing things on TV in the guise of a comedy which is actually kind’a interesting.

In The Good Place, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is a newly deceased person who ends up in “the good place” where the good people go and not the “bad place” where everyone else ends up. Except it turns out that there was a mixup where Eleanor should’ve ended up in the bad place but instead wound up in the good place. And after Eleanor hears what it’s like in the bad place, which involves lots of screaming and loud noises, she wants to stay in the good place and enlists the help of her soul-mate Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) to stay. Which means he’s got to try and make her a better person.

Except that every time Eleanor has a bad thought or does something not good it makes bad things happen in the good place — like trash being strewn everywhere or giant ladybugs attacking the city. So it’s a question of can Chidi reform Eleanor before the good place is destroyed by her, or should he turn her into the good place overseer Michael (Ted Danson) and save everyone else?

Much of the comedy of The Good Place is supposed to come from Eleanor doing bad things like getting drunk, being selfish and envying others. And there are flashbacks to Eleanor when she was alive doing those same sort of things. However, what she did when she was alive wasn’t all that bad — she litters in front of an environmentalist and sneaks off to have sex with a bartender when she’s supposed to be her group’s designated driver. She’s not bad, she’s just a self-centered jerk.

And I think that’s where the darkness of The Good Place comes from. In the mythology of The Good Place only the best of the best get in. New arrivals watch an orientation film of why they made it to the good place and it’s obvious that the vast majority of people on the Earth aren’t good enough to make it to the good place and go to the bad place instead.

I think what interested me the most about The Good Place was thinking about just how people get picked to go into the good or bad place? It seems like there’s some algorithmic based decision going on there — doing good things adds up in your favor and bad takes away, but doing really good things adds up more than just slightly good and vice versa — but who made the algorithm and who made the good place? Is it god who’s pulling the strings?

In certain ways The Good Place reminds me of the 1980s The Twilight Zone episode “Dead Run”. In so much as in that episode it turns out that god isn’t the one deciding who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, that’s the devil’s job. And he’ll take anyone who’s even sinned in the slightest taking nice old grandmas who had impure thoughts and murders alike.

And The Good Place feels very much like the mirror of “Dead Run,” except here it’s the story of the lucky very few who avoid going to the bad place.

Honestly, if The Good Place were more of a drama I’d think it’s the next Lost wondering just what’s going on with the behind the scenes mechanics of the good place and the mystery of how and why everyone got there and what the bad place is like. Is the good place some lie? Are the people living in the good place not actually in the good place?

But since The Good Place is a comedy and not a drama I highly doubt this is the case. I’d be pleasantly surprised if there were something more hiding in the depths of the story of The Good Place, but I won’t be surprised whatsoever if there isn’t.

Lethal Weapon – Grade: C+

This new FOX series based on the 1987 Lethal Weapon film is basically Lethal Weapon-lite by way of the movie Last Action Hero where every police chase is a HIGH-OCTANE chase and every police shootout is a HIGH-OCTANE shootout. And, if a good character is going to be shot it’s going to be in their shoulder so they’ll be able to be up and around that same day. The bright shining spot of the mostly “we’ve seen this all before” Lethal Weapon is Damon Wayans as Roger Murtaugh who plays the role with just enough cheese to make the first episode at least watchable. Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs, on the other hand, starts off the episode with a thick southern accent which he somehow looses after the first ten minutes. His version of the Riggs character seems to prowl the depths of depression one minute, pining over a dead wife and child while drinking shots and almost playing Russian Roulette, and almost joyous the next.

I get that the Riggs character is supposed to be a loose cannon and suicidal, but in tone I’m not sure that the TV version of Riggs is there yet.

MacGyver – Grade: F

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Movies

Passengers movie trailer

The rom-com-space-con?

Cool Sites

Pilot Callsigns: The web’s largest collection of callsign stories

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1951: Linda Hamilton of Terminator, Terminator 2 and the TV series Beauty and the Beast is born
  • 1952: Christopher Reeve, Superman, is born
  • 1968: Night of the Living Dead opens in theaters
  • 1985: The TV series Amazing Stories debuts
  • 1987: Star Trek: The Next Generation premiers
  • 2001: Star Trek: Enterprise premiers
  • 2005: Serenity opens in theaters